Recently, a friend of the SuperOptimist expressed concern that their memory was heading south. “I just finished this great book about New York last week. It’s called…uh…oh, my god, what’s the name of it…this is frightening…I can’t remember anything anymore!”

We’re not sure if it’s this one but it sure looks good.

They proceeded to recount how they had been forgetting the names of movies they’d recently watched, restaurants where they’d just scored takeout, even a good friend’s name who was standing right in front of them. “I keep calling you Nancy when your name is Nicole! Is this what age is doing to me?”

Here’s another good book, though nothing to do with memory.

None of us is immune to the effects of getting older, especially on memory. As SuperOptimists, we forget stuff all the time (and are constantly being reminded of it by our well-meaning friends and spouses). But rather than freak out when we call Dave “Don”, or think Millard Fillmore was the 14th president of the United States,* we give ourselves credit for forgetting. Why? Because it’s a sure sign that we are highly intelligent!

Scientists at the University of Toronto have published a study that suggests that the struggle to find the right word, whiff on a name, and blank on a fact are all signs you’re super smart. They posit that forgetfulness is important, as it’s merely the brain making space to take in more crucial information, the kind that helps you make better decisions going forward. Will knowing that Jason Bateman starred as the Mutant in “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” help you survive another day on planet earth? Probably not. ** So forget it!

But you still might enjoy this Jason Bateman keepsake.

So the next time you have a memory lapse, don’t think you’re “losing it.”  Instead, know that you’re simply taking the time to empty out your overloaded brain tank. Besides, worrying about losing one’s memory will only serve to further clog your pipes and have you flailing about for your next sentence.

To help you, we’ve created this list of the things really worth remembering:

1. Date of birth.

2. Credit card number/expiration date/four digit code.

3. Name of spouse or significant other.

4. Which local pizza establishment serves the best garlic knots.

5. Cleanup hitter for your hometown baseball team.

6. Company you work for and immediate superior at work.

All other information is fine to forget. Of course, if you’re dead set on trying to retain every last detail you’ve ever absorbed, there are certain mind tricks that can make you seem sharp at parties. Why not start with the names of the hosts and their street address?

We remember enjoying this book a while back.

It’s a great feeling to create more space inside your cranium. So go ahead, enjoy a little memory loss. And remember, you’re all the smarter for it!

*Fillmore was actually the 13th president. Speaking of chief executives, do you know the names of all 46?  (Hint: that’s a trick question.)

**However, remembering that a donkey will sink in quicksand but a mule won’t could very well help save your life one day.

Whether you’re talking about free markets vs. government intervention,  Peloton vs. Soulcycle, or who qualifies as the best rock band of all time, everyone seemingly has an opinion. Some more educated than others.

He did a lot of thinking in his day.

Yet most people have no more idea what they’re talking about than your well-meaning friend who has the answers to all the world’s problems, if only the world would come to his basement and hear him out. (There are a lot of these people in crawlspaces and parents’ attics on social media now. The strength of their opinion would seem to derive from years of hard study, though scratch their surface and it’s more the adoption of peer group discourse than any hard-won research.

What do you like? What does everyone else like?

In this age of big data and internet everything, one may think they can google, quora, reddit or wiki the answer to every question instantly. But more is learned by experience and exploration than reading a post on social media. And even then, we still have no definitive answer on how the universe began, or how many galaxies in space hold life forms equal to or greater than ours, or whether baseball would be better if we shortened the game further.

Refreshing to admit right at the outset.

For some reason, humans have a very hard time admitting that there may not have all the knowledge in the world. It’s hardwired in our DNA to never admit we’re clueless or wrong.

Interesting name for a soda pop company.

And yet, the strength, the wisdom and the relief in saying “I don’t know” may be the smartest thing one can ever communicate — no matter what their age, sex, race, or position in society. Is it any surprise that our most effective leaders are those flexible enough to change their opinions based on the latest intelligence, rather than fearing the appearance of indecisiveness?)

Translation: “I don’t know” in Cantonese.

It takes a big person to say “I don’t know” (and different sized people to wear it on a t-shirt.) Self-awareness and confidence are required as well. But how refreshing it is to hear. And how exciting it is to live in the mystery rather than the answer.*

*As author and rabble-rouser Ken Kesey said, “Once you have the answer, you stop thinking.” And who wants to do that?

Feeling jaded? Stuck in a rut? Bemoaning a lack of interesting stimuli?  This could be just the break you’re looking for. Studies have shown that people who are easily bored are constantly looking for new ways to fight the boredom, and that makes them more likely to turn to risky behaviors in an attempt to make their environments more interesting. So is this bad? It is if you decide to go skydiving without a parachute, or watch streaming video for 92 hours straight, or take more than your prescribed dosage of Parnazadanol.*

But by taking the “right risks,” boredom can be the fuel that sparks fresh ideas. None other than Fyodor Dostoevsky, the celebrated Russian author, believed that boredom was a precursor to great creativity. Despite his Slavic propensity for gloom, in this regard Fyodor definitely exhibited SuperOptimist tendencies.

All you need is the patience to not freak out when boredom arrives. Stay with the feeling, soak in it awhile, and then watch your imagination begin to look for an escape hatch. It’s in this mental search for escape that inspired thinking can be found.

The SuperOptimist realizes that the mind will always seek a way out from the cage of boredom eventually. Even if the route is up over the craggy Himalayas, and each step is hard, hard, work, the mind will seek it nonetheless.  Just think how good it will feel to climb up out of boredom and conquer that mountain.

Take that first step now and we’ll see you at the top!

*We made this up. But it sounds like a new pharmaceutical breakthrough, doesn’t it?

 

 

Are you amenable to letting gods, extraterrestrials, and mythical beings into your space?Are you prepared for energy shifts? For dissociation from what people consider “reality?”  For images, color, words and light language to enter your consciousness?

The practice of channeling — a person’s body being taken over by a spirit for the purpose of communication — has been around for millennia. There are countless stories of shaman, witch doctors, prophets and others who claim to hear voices or receive some supernatural knowledge from the spirit world.  Channeling involves shifting your mind and mental space in order to achieve an expanded state of consciousness.

Think of it as plugging into a vast cosmic switchboard or tuning a radio to get a clear signal.  As you enter the spirit realm, you become receptive to higher frequencies.  Let the universe decide to deliver the message and you be the monitor so others can receive it.

This being the time of year when many people attempt to summon a certain mythical being in white beard and red suit, we recommend following these steps to increase your chance of success. First, research the god to find out his or her preferences. (Rooftop landing? Front door entrance? Place for reindeer to warm up?) Then place a statue or image of the god on your altar (In this case, hang a stocking by the chimney with care.) Finally, leave out a selection of the god’s favorite offerings (Why not put a selection of cookies on a nice plate for your mythical being.)

It also helps if you maintain the innocence of a four-year-old when summoning your god. They are much more likely to show up if you do!

Aside from the holidays, channeling is often stronger when you’re active – exercising, dancing, creating, walking in nature, meditating — and when focusing with heart and not logical mind. So go ahead and do whatever comes naturally, from toe-tapping to automatic drawing to full blown mania.*

*Some might question your behavior when summoning your gods and goddesses.  Ignore them.  They will soon learn that you have entered a higher realm of being, and wish to follow you there.  

In our society, memory lapses are considered embarrassing character flaws and the term “senior moment” has been coined to make a mockery of them.

But hold on here: isn’t it good to forget things? After all, most of the stimulus we take into our brains is not worthy of our attention in the first place. We don’t really need to know which actresses are posing nude on the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair. Nor are the latest sports scores or political dust-ups crucial for our survival in the moment.   Even a fact as seemingly crucial as who won the Super Bowl or the latest primary polling numbers is optional information.

Really, losing memory is a blessing, as it clears out the crawlspace and leaves the mind free to remember more interesting occurrences, such as the time you hitched a ride to Philly to see OzzFest. Or how wonderful it was to jump a spider bike over a tree stump for the first time. Or remembering where you put the tickets to the opera you ordered three months ago.

Ah, bliss! Thy name is…uh…hmmmm…well, it’s obviously not that important.

Illustration: Getting older means more time for abstract thinking.